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Free program at YMCA helps distance-learners with support, food and physical enrichment

Free program at YMCA helps distance-learners with support, food and physical enrichment


A free program offering help for those struggling with distance learning still has dozens of openings for Tulsa children.

Aimed at providing critical wraparound services during the pandemic, the Community HOPE Center remains open at the Tandy Family YMCA with funding through the federal CARES Act.

“We have 65 kids with the space for 100,” Kyle Wilkes, YMCA of Greater Tulsa’s vice president of mission advancement, said Monday. “And there’s no expense to the families that come.”

HOPE Centers, which Gov. Kevin Stitt and first lady Sarah Stitt announced in August would open across the state using federal coronavirus relief funds, draw on community partnerships with area agencies to serve children and families.

Tutoring, tech support, mental health and family services are available at the Tandy Family YMCA, 5005 S. Darlington Ave. The program also offers necessary gadgets, food and snacks in partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Family & Children’s Services, the Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma, the United Way and the Opportunity Project.

The food bank also provides each child with a backpack full of food to take home on weekends, Wilkes said.

While at the day camp, which runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the 5- to 18-year-old participants spend time with tutors and on Zoom with other students while also engaging in physical and enrichment activities with YMCA staff.

Wilkes said the response from caregivers has been a combination of relief and overwhelming gratitude.

There’s been “a lot of ‘I don’t know what we would do,’” Wilkes said.

But parents have to continue to work, he said, and “this is an opportunity for parents to re-engage with society” while ensuring their children don’t suffer learning loss.

In light of the pandemic, safety is of the utmost importance to organizers, Wilkes said, but they’re also dedicated to serving the critical needs of families.

Staff members have their temperatures taken daily and wear masks and gloves while interacting with children in a 9-to-1 ratio, Wilkes said, and the designated spaces for learning allow the participants to spread out. The spaces are cleaned daily and additionally every few days electrostatically.

Those interested in the program may call 918-280-9622.

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Staff Writer

I write because I care about people, policing and peace, and I believe the most informed people make the best decisions. I joined the Tulsa World in 2019 and currently cover breaking news. Phone: 918-581-8455

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